Recognising that you have an alcohol dependence can be scary. However, as simple as it sounds, the first step to changing your life is admitting you want to change.
Whether you want to stop drinking alcohol altogether or adopt a healthier lifestyle to feel physically and mentally in control, this life-changing journey demands commitment and a strategic approach. At OYNB, we recognise this struggle and are here to help you change your relationship with alcohol.
In this blog, we explore the negative effects of excessive alcohol consumption while providing seven effective tips to help you quit, or cut down, your alcohol intake to achieve a healthier and more controlled life.
If you’re struggling with alcohol use or know family and friends who are, keep reading to gain knowledge that can help those you love through this challenging time.
The Negative Impacts of Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption poses a threat to your physical state, mental well-being, social interaction, relationships and work-life balance. In this section, we’ll explain how.
Physical Health Impacts of Alcohol Use
Repeatedly drinking too much alcohol can be life-threatening. It can lead to difficulty sleeping, high blood pressure, alcohol-related cancer and cardiovascular problems like hypertension and heart disease. It also damages the liver and can lead to conditions like long-term liver damage and cirrhosis.
If you tend to drink alcohol on an empty stomach, the substance will hit your bloodstream much quicker, and you will start to feel the side effects faster.
Drinking heavily on an empty stomach can cause stomach pain, impaired coordination and false judgement, which increase the chance of accidents and injuries.
Mental Health Impacts of Alcohol Use
Mentally, chronic alcohol misuse can cause you to feel stressed and have an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
If you have been a heavy drinker for a long time, you may also experience declining cognitive functions like memory loss, poor concentration and a reduced ability to problem-solve.
As a consequence of these mental health impacts, alcohol dependency strains relationships, which can foster social isolation. Over time, social isolation worsens anxiety and depression and can make you more physically dependent on alcohol.
Not only does alcohol have an impact when you’re awake, but it also causes bad dreams due to increased anxiety before falling asleep. Disturbed sleep then leads to poorer physical health.
Work-Life Balance Impacts of Alcohol Use
Work-life is also significantly impacted by alcohol misuse. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to increased absence, reduced productivity, and a higher likelihood of engaging in harmful activities.
This not only disrupts personal work-life balance but also burdens healthcare systems and law enforcement with alcohol-related accidents and violence.
Recognising these consequences strengthens the need to promote responsible alcohol consumption and support those grappling with alcohol dependency.
Our Top Tips to Change Your Relationship With Alcohol
Whether you’re looking to reduce your usual units of alcohol or are looking at removing alcohol from your lifestyle completely, various challenges can hinder your journey along the way. At OYNB, we specialise in helping people take back their control and have put together some top tips to make this action more effective and sustainable.
Tip 1: Set Clear Goals
One of the first steps in quitting alcohol, or controlling your intake, is to establish clear and realistic goals. Define why you want to change, whether for health reasons, personal growth, or mending relationships. Having specific objectives will provide you with a sense of purpose and motivation during challenging times.
Consider creating short-term and long-term goals, such as reducing alcohol intake gradually or completely abstaining. Remember, the more precise your goals, the easier it will be to achieve them and stop drinking altogether.
Tip 2: Seek Professional Support
Quitting alcohol or making lifestyle changes to control your intake can be a daunting process, and seeking support can make a huge difference. With significant support available, there is no need to experience this transformation alone.
Having a strong support network can be invaluable for overcoming challenges and staying committed to your goal of taking control of your drinking habits or quit drinking alcohol completely.
Sharing thoughts, feelings, withdrawal symptoms and experiences can help you feel less alone and more understood.
It is advisable to talk to your doctor or other health professionals about treatment options for mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Likewise, if you are struggling to cope with any alcohol withdrawal symptoms, like delirium tremens (DTs).
It is important to note that these symptoms are usually unavoidable and you’re not the only one facing them. If you find yourself feeling low or tempted, remind yourself that the temporary discomfort now will be worth the freedom and improvements later.
Tip 3: Create a Supportive Environment
Surround yourself with people who understand and support your lifestyle change. Sharing your goals with friends and family, asking for their encouragement and eliminating all triggers from your environment that may tempt you to lose control over your drinking habits.
This could involve avoiding places where alcohol is available or making changes in your social circles if necessary. If you want to stop being dependent on alcohol, you must surround yourself with like-minded people.
If the people you associate yourself with have unhealthy drinking habits, they are likely to hinder your journey or cause you to relapse back into old habits.
Supportive friends will understand that you are undergoing self-development and will encourage your path to an alcohol-free life. If someone is trying to steer you off track, they probably don’t have your best interests at heart, so it’s best to avoid them for the time being.
Tip 4: Develop Healthy Coping Mechanisms
Many individuals turn to alcohol as a way to cope with feeling stressed, anxious, or other challenging emotions. To successfully quit alcohol use, partially or entirely, it's essential to develop healthier coping mechanisms and understand what triggers you to feel certain emotions.
Recognising the thoughts and feelings that trigger you to want to consume alcohol will allow you to have more control over your body and drinking habits. With time and practice, you will enter a state of realisation and power over your emotions and triggers.
To develop healthy coping mechanisms and avoid temptation, replace drinking habits with activities that provide stress relief and relaxation. This could include exercise, meditation, or hobbies that bring you joy and occupy your time and thoughts.
Understanding and addressing the underlying reasons for drinking is a key aspect of building a sustainable, alcohol-free lifestyle.
Tip 5: Educate Yourself
Knowledge is a powerful tool when taking control over your intake or quitting drinking alcohol is your goal. Start by educating yourself about the effects of alcohol on your body and mind, as well as the potential consequences of long-term alcohol misuse.
Understanding the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of alcohol dependence can strengthen your motivation to change. Likewise, staying informed on the benefits that reducing your consumption or quitting alcohol entirely can have may help keep you on track.
To get ahead of your journey and better prepare yourself for any challenges ahead, strengthen your knowledge of the withdrawal process. This information will help you have a better understanding of what is happening to your body and why.
Tip 6: Establish a Routine
Creating a structured daily routine can help fill the void left by alcohol and provide a sense of stability. Plan your days with activities that align with your goals and contribute to your overall well-being.
This could include regular exercise, meaningful social interactions, and engaging in enjoyable activities. A well-structured routine not only keeps you occupied but also minimises idle time, which reduces the risk of giving in to unhealthy cravings. Consistency is key to building an alcohol-free lifestyle, or even better, getting into a place where you simply don’t think about alcohol.
In the early stages of your journey, you might allow yourself a certain amount of alcoholic drinks a day or one drink on a specific night to enforce limits and discipline into your routine.
However, if you decide to drink an alcoholic beverage, make sure you don’t drink on an empty stomach, drink slower and stick to your limits. On your alcohol-free days, drink soda or water and remember to follow your usual routine filled with healthy activities and coping mechanisms.
If you’re in social settings or attending events that involve drinking, opt for non-alcoholic drinks and have the internal power to say “no” if you are offered a drink containing alcohol if you have exceeded your limits.
Tip 7: Celebrate Milestones
Recognise and celebrate your achievements along the way. Whether it's a week, a month, or a year without alcohol, each milestone is proof of your commitment and resilience. Treat yourself to a reward, a sweet treat, or indulge in activities that bring you joy.
Acknowledging your progress reinforces the positive changes you've made and motivates you to continue on your journey. Share your milestones with your support network, as their encouragement can bring a sense of accomplishment.
Let OYNB Help You Own Your Journey – You’ve Got This!
Excessive alcohol consumption has numerous harmful effects on the body. The journey to stop drinking completely is both challenging and rewarding, and our tips are here to make it easier for you.
At OYNB, we specialise in helping people, like yourself, gain control over the amount of alcohol they consume. With focus, dedication, support and a strategy, gaining an independent mindset is more achievable and sustainable.
Changing behaviours can be tough, no doubt about it. Just remember, it's a journey that keeps going. Every step towards a healthier, alcohol-free life is a step towards a brighter and more in-control future. The secret is to not give up!
If you feel alcohol is taking control of your thoughts and actions, if social situations are difficult without a drink, or if you consistently exceed your intended drinking goal, we're here to help.
Spotting these signs is the first step towards getting support and regaining control. Whether you’re a heavy drinker wanting to cut back, handle social situations without relying on alcohol, or quit entirely, our resources are here for you.
With OYNB by your side, you’re in full support of a more positive, healthier and balanced life. Check how we can support you, or get in touch with our friendly team today by calling 020 7305 7006 or emailing us at [email protected]. Your journey to a more empowered you starts now!
An entrepreneur and former senior oil broker, Ruari gave up drinking after excessive consumption almost cost him his marriage, and worse, his life. Going alcohol-free improved his relationships, career and energy levels, leading to him founding OYNB to provide a support network for others.